Interview with Dr. Zivko Mitrevski for the Macedonian Information Agency MIA

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Trade union movement at European and global level, including the trade union movement in the country, especially in recent years, paid special attention to the harassment at the workplace, i.e. mobbing. Recently, at the initiative of the Federation of Trade Unions of Macedonia the Law against mobbing was adopted, being extremely important for the regulation of relations in working environments. Passing the bill is of historical importance because it will contribute to creating healthy working environment and relaxed relations, says the president of SSM Zivko Mitrevski, PhD.

What was the previous regulation the problem of mobbing in the country in the legal framework?

- The requirements of SSM as a leader in direction of adoption of new special law on mobbing found the legal framework and legal limitation of this phenomenon as insufficient, presented with only one article in the Labor Law. Namely, in Macedonia existed legal norms that prohibited and sanctioned procedures (activities) that enable mobbing: the Constitution, the Law on Protection from Harassment in the Workplace, Labor Law, the Criminal Code, OHS Law, the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, the Law on Protection against Discrimination, Collective Agreements, the Law for Peaceful Resolution of Labor Disputes.

For example, according to the Constitution, the state has an obligation to ensure basic rights and freedoms of people and citizens, recognized in international law. Articles 10 and 11 prohibit any form of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, punishment and forced labor. With Article 25, every person is guaranteed the respect and protection of the privacy of their personal and family life, dignity and reputation. Article 32 specifies labor rights and employment rights (everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, occupational safety and financial support during unemployment. Each job is available for everyone under equal conditions. Every employee is entitled to be paid daily, weekly and to an annual leave).

In 2009 Labor Law was amended by Article 9-a in order legal regulation of mobbing in RM. Practice has shown that the goal is not achieved, i.e. there are only a few cases of mobbing in litigation procedure, for which there is no final court decision, etc.

However, due to the subtlety of the issue of mobbing, i.e. protection from physical and sexual harassment in the workplace and providing healthy working environment, Federation of Trade Unions of Macedonia required normative devices and a special law, because the only article in the Labor Law, which only defines and prohibits mobbing, complicated rather than provided opportunity to resolve cases of mobbing. For this reason, SSM started initiative for passing a law - Lex specialis, launched on May Day event in 2012, under the motto: "To protect human dignity by passing legislation to prevent harassment."

Besides SSM’s activities, who else is credited for the adoption on the law against mobbing?

- SSM proposed text for the law that was put on the agenda of the Economic and Social Council. The motion was accepted by ESC and the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy initiated activities to establish the draft text of the law, involving the social partners. On the initiative and draft text of the law pleaded the Government, and after their acceptance, the bill was discussed in the Parliament and passed. The position of SSM was to create a legal framework to the problem called mobbing, accepted and supported by our membership and the general public. The debates and workshops on mobbing held by SSM, and on the debates on this issue organized by other entities, there was a joint idea - our country needs a special law for harassment, because of the frequency of psychological pressure on employees, which carries consequences not only for their health, but also for their employment status. This law was necessary for mitigating the impact and resolving labor disputes that resulted in harassment. I am grateful to all stakeholders who contributed project on the law to be successfully completed. Those are branch trade unions, women sections, the SSM’s Office on assistance and education to victims of mobbing, many NGOs and civil society organizations, especially the working groups of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, and I would mention Liljana Popovska of the parliamentarians, being part of all initiatives.


What are the sanctions prescribed by the law?/strong>

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- We are pleased that there are serious penalties - from 5.000 to 6.000 euro for performing mobbing up to 4.000 euro for the responsible person. Employers are obliged to inform workers about the law within three months, and the category and compensation is introduced. Passing the law is verification of social dialogue in Macedonia. Among other things, it is a verification of the last year’s campaign of the Federation of Trade Unions of Macedonia. This is the third strategic law adopted on SSM’s initiative.

In what areas is mobbing most present?

- Most victims of mobbing are in the textile industry, healthcare and administration. Regarding the type of pressures around 60 % refers to the achievement of employment, and the most prevalent is psychological harassment, before physical and sexual harassment.


According H. Layman, some of the recognizable signs of harassment are attacks on the quality of work and environment: lack of assignments or revocation of all tasks of the victim, assigning meaningless tasks, assigning tasks under knowledge and qualifications of the victim to discredit the victim, continuous and unjustified allocation of new tasks, assigning tasks that are attacking spiritual, moral and religious integrity of the victim. Commonly identified attacks on health of workers by mobbing are – forcing the worker to work that damages the health; threats of physical violence; use of so-called light force; physical abuse; causing costs to harm the victim; physical damage in the home or workplace of the victim and sexual assault.

The project "Anti - Mobbing Network MK" attempted to make a difference between mobbing and classical violations of labor relation. The criteria were as follows: is there psychological maltreatment (psychological terror, psychological harassment), is there relationship between unwanted behavior and psychological and physical health of the victim (it is necessary to distinguish people with mental sensations regardless of the work environment, hypersensitive people prone to depression, people who are easily offended). Perceiving of the essential elements is necessary for timely, appropriately, and properly characterization of the contentious behavior, protection of health and privacy of employee, obligations concerning the protection of health, protection of privacy – collected data, processed data, right to disposition of data, mobbing due to inappropriate handling of private data, video surveillance, overtime, night work, annual holidays.

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Protection against mobbing and its role is important for SSM. Why?

- Federation of Trade Unions of Macedonia is committed to the basic human right to a healthy and safe working environment that enables social and economically productive life for employees. In this framework SSM emphasizes the need for care and protection against psychological pressure, harassment, intimidation on the workplace - mobbing. In conditions of market economy and high competition in the market, global financial and debt crisis, high unemployment, this right is neglected and an additional fact is omitted - that only normal and healthy work environment can produce the desired business results, economic progress and prosperity in the country.

What is your advice to the workers who are victims of mobbing? Considering new legislation, do you encourage them to launch an initiative to protect and enforce their rights?

- We encourage employees to protect and exercise their rights under this law. They should feel free to talk to the SSM’s legal representatives, to branch unions and to the Office for assistance. We appealed to employers to respect workers' rights and to contribute to the creation of relaxed industrial relations. We will do everything the law not to remain only on paper, but to truly revive it in due course. SSM will conduct additional training of membership on mobbing.

In order to raise awareness among workers and general public about the existence, the need for recognition and protection from mobbing, Federation of Trade Unions of Macedonia has preventive campaigns, educate workers through seminars, workshops and panel discussions, organized either independently or in partnership with Macedonian Trade unions or with European and International Trade Union organizations such ITUC and ETUC, ILO, Ministry of Labor and Social Policy - Department for Equal Opportunities, Organization of Employers of Macedonia, Foundations and NGOs.

Federation of Trade Unions of Macedonia, Trade Union of Financial Activities of Macedonia and the Office for Assistance and Education to Victims of Mobbing, organized in 2012 training and awarded 20 licenses for Anti-mobbing Advisors who today work on prevention and suppression of mobbing.

The Office for Assistance and Education to Victims of Mobbing has numerous cases, mostly of employees aged 21-41, of which 97% have consequences of the mobbing, and in 48% there was a termination of employment.

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What is the role of the union as possible conflict mediator?

- In the prevention of mobbing, of particular importance is the cooperation and communication with the trade union. It is necessary to apply communication skills especially by the union representative and the OHS representative in the approach to the problem of victims of mobbing. It is necessary to mediate in the possible conflict, in order involved parties to understand each other better, to analyze the events and to define common points that will allow them to continue to work together or to move in mutual respect. Due to the complexity and severity of mobbing consequences, primarily due damaged health of the victims and the impact to the wider environment, mobbing becoming social problem and need to be properly treated. One of the necessary steps to keep social dialogue at all levels in order to maintain employability and quality of work as the common interest of all social partners.

Dragica Hristova

MIA 15/07/2013

ILO Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities - EU FRIEDRICH EBERT STIFTUNG Организацијa на работодавачи на Македонија etuc